For years, I've struggled with learning and practicing meditation. My annual personal goals, business goals, and affirmations inevitably included... "I will meditate daily for 10-20 minutes." I have researched and read countless books on meditation only to find myself frustrated every time I attempted to do it. In the end the goal was not attained.
I'm not one to give up on something that I knew would ultimately be a powerful force for me to master. After much thought, I finally discovered the secret of what meditation means to me. It happened when I let go of my attachment to what meditation is supposed to look like and how I should do it. I was trying to make myself fit into the traditionally accepted meditation routine. I was just overthinking it. My experience and definition of meditation is simply to quiet my mind so that I can find my way back to the present moment where I recognize that connection and alignment with the source of all that is. I realized and accepted that meditation can be as easy as focusing on my breath.
Since that awakening, I easily fit meditation into my daily agenda. It has taught me that I do not need something outside of myself to be happy, successful, peaceful and present. It reminds me that everything I need is within me already and always has been. Meditation and mindfulness strengthen my connection to that inner wisdom and reinforces living in the present moment. In many ways this newly harnessed superpower has made me mindfully invincible!
Meditation can be especially useful when you are feeling stuck and are unsure of where to go next. It's all too easy to let our ego mind take over. It is constantly battling for dominance and control. For most of us, our mind and thoughts are generally focused on the past (and the accompanying feelings of regret, sorrow or guilt) or worrying about the future (with feelings of anxiety and fear). When our thoughts are there, we are not here -- in the present, in the NOW. The ego mind is a fierce competitor because it knows it will disappear in the Now. And, let's face it, most of us only know this ego mind. It's been our friend, kept us safe and been our constant companion through thick and thin, good times and bad.
Meditation can help you reconnect and realign with that higher part of yourself so you can stay open and present -- in the NOW. There is abundant research and evidence that meditation enhances your overall well-being -- your mental and physical health including:
- Reducing your cortisol level, blood pressure, social anxiety and depression
- Increasing your immune response, resilience and focus
- Improving your relationships, including with yourself
- Enhancing your work performance
- Fostering compassion and empathy
The key for me is to simply focus on my breath. I start my day with meditation -- even if it is only 10 minutes of mindful breathing. I like to mix it up and also enjoy listening to guided meditations or music. I have also experimented with several mobile apps. My current favorite meditation apps, resources and guided meditations are included here.
Practice this simple breathing meditation:
- Set a 10-minute (or longer) timer. Download the Meditation Timer free app or just use the timer on your phone clock
- Sit comfortably in a chair or on a pillow on the floor
- Sit up straight and tall -- visualize a white light or cord aligning your spine from the top of your head through your spine and grounding you into the earth
- Place your hands in your lap or on your thighs
- Simply place your attention on your breath as you breathe in and out normally. Or try counting to 6 or 7 on the inhale and exhale
- If you find your mind drifting to random thoughts and/or what you have to do today, just release those thoughts and bring your focus back to your breath
- visualize a cleansing, beautiful white light flowing through you -- cleansing your body and cells
- think love, joy, peace, light, abundance, bliss
- stagnant energy and breath -- release it
- release any negative thoughts or feelings such as fear, anger, sadness or scarcity
I've recently been working on enhancing my superpower -- that's right, always striving to improve my overall awareness. I revisited a concept that I briefly studied and practiced in the past -- Aikido. I was always fascinated with the zen concept of Mushin which means "no mind" or "empty mind." In Aikido, the practitioner seeks this state of no-mindedness. A place where the mind is not occupied by thoughts or emotion and therefore is open to everything. When the warrior 'becomes one' with the attacker and experiences this 'no mind' state, he/she is able to flow effortlessly, efficiently and in harmony.
This is meditation to me: finding and experiencing that state of "no mind" and being fully now and here (NOWHERE). You can easily practice with focused breathing and mindfulness pauses throughout your day when you find yourself feeling stressed and not enjoying the moment.
Here is an easy way to remember how to be Now Here:
N -- No mind, notice the breath
O -- Observe without judgment; be open to signs, messages, and possibilities
W -- Wander -- if your thoughts wander, simply return to the breath
H -- Heart-center focused -- open your heart as you inhale and exhale
E -- Expand your energy field
R -- Receive the gifts and insights
E -- Enjoy the experience of being you